Tips for recruiting physicians – thinking outside the box
High demand for talented physicians is hampering recruiters from securing top candidates. Read our 12 tips to stay one step ahead of the competition.
With physicians in high demand, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for organizations and recruiters to reel in candidates. But with a concerted effort and focus on successful recruitment, hospitals and physician practices can fill those slots with qualified practitioners. Read on for surefire techniques to recruit top physicians.
1. Focus on what you can control
Location, location, location — it’s harder to attract physicians to some locations, especially rural areas. Accept what you can’t change (your location), and focus on what you can. For some, that might be the compensation package or benefits, including vacation time and flexible scheduling. To make a position more enticing, for example, hire someone else to handle night and weekend duty, as the target physicians may want to just work weekdays.
2. Evaluate your compensation
Is your compensation package up to date? If you’re not offering competitive compensation, it will be difficult to attract virtually any candidate, let alone successfully recruit and retain a skilled physician. Take a look the types of packages your competitors offer to see where you stand. If you need more money to find the right candidate, talk to the hospital board of directors or those in the practice who are in charge of the finances, and get approval for the additional compensation before you begin recruiting, so you move more once you start interviewing.
3. Ask yourself what's important to the recruits
What you think is important for a physician may not be the same as what they actually want. One physician may be more interested in the monetary component, while another may be willing to sacrifice dollars in exchange for shorter hours. Listen to what the candidates are saying in interviews, so you can tailor the role to the right person. Find out what the candidates' top motivations are in changing or accepting a job, and use that information to craft the best offer.
4. Be proactive
Make advertising a key part of your search strategy, to find candidates you may not have found otherwise. Proactively talk to physicians who are already on staff to ask them to spread the word to their networks, which gets the advertisement into more physician circles. Consider offering a hiring bonus or perk for a person who brings in a candidate who accepts the job.
5. Start early
Searches can take awhile, especially if a physician needs to relocate for the position. Get an earlier start on the search process so you’ll have more time to find qualified applicants before panic sets in. Draft a timeline for recruiting and settling a candidate so you'll have a plan.
6. Stand out
Some specialties are in shorter supply, especially primary care physicians. With increased demand comes increased competition. One way to stand out is by showing how much you value and support your current physicians and their families. During interviews, introduce your candidate and their spouse to other physician families who are happy with their employment.
7. Recruit the family
The physician’s partner and children will need to make a nice life for themselves in your community. You can help that process by showing them what the community has to offer for their specific needs and interests, which may include assisting with a spouse’s job search. Give the spouse a tour of the town, including amenities they are interested in, like schools, houses of faith, cultural institutions and homes.
8. Know your organization
If your organization has successfully retained physicians, find out what you’re doing well. Then share that information with applicants so they see stability and peer job satisfaction. If your organization is not successfully retaining physicians, now is a good time to fix that problem. Find out why you’re bleeding talent and make changes so you can recruit and retain appropriate staffing going forward. Depending on your organization, schedule roundtable discussions or anonymous surveys to gather information.
9. Be flexible on timing.
While you may be under pressure to get a new physician in the door within a certain time frame, you could lose excellent candidates if they don’t fit into that narrow box. Maintain some backup options if you need to hire a short-term locum tenens physician as you wait for the permanent replacement.
10. Keep your search notes
Don’t throw away or delete those notes and résumés from past candidates. It might not be the right timing for someone you liked, but maybe in a few years, they’ll be ready to make a switch and want to come to your organization. Stay in touch with candidates you liked, sending occasional emails or asking to meet up at medical conferences.
11. Continue the momentum
After the recruited physician signs the contract and prepares to relocate, continue to keep them updated on the community. Physician retention is important, and helping the physician feel more comfortable with the change before coming will make for an easier transition for all. Assign a specific person to answer questions and help with logistics before the move.
12. Consider advanced practitioners
If you’re able to change the job to hire an advanced practitioner rather than a physician, consider doing so. You may need to make some other practice changes to do so, but that may be a solution to your hiring needs if physician recruitment isn’t working. Look into ways to divide up the job between physician extenders and physicians already on staff.